Do Soccer Shin Guards Go Under or Over Socks?

When you play soccer, it’s vital that you not only have the right gear but that you wear the gear correctly.

Shin guards are important pieces of equipment that protect you from lower leg injuries while playing soccer.

One of the most common questions people have about shin guards is whether or not they go under or over socks. 

Shin guards go under a player’s socks.

There are three reasons why soccer players wear their shin guards under their socks:

  1. It is a requirement of the rules of soccer.
  2. To keep the shin guards in place
  3. Traditionally, players have always worn shin guards this way

My aim in this article is to help you understand why soccer players wear shin guards under their socks and show you how to wear shin guards correctly.

Shin Guards Go Under or Over Socks?

Why Soccer Players Must Wear Shin Guards Under Socks

When players are preparing for a soccer game, their shin guards must be placed under their socks. Every soccer league requires this, and it keeps all players safe for the game’s duration.

Let’s look at each reason why you wear your shin guards under your socks. 

1. It’s a Requirement of the Rules of Soccer

The first and most important reason is that it is a standard rule when playing soccer. Soccer rules dictate that players must cover their shin guards with their socks for the entire game.

This rule is why players wear long, athletic socks to cover the entire shin guard.

If the referee notices that the sock has slipped down and reveals the shin guard, the referee will ask them to fix it.

Players must always keep their shin guards covered because they may distract from the colors of a team’s uniform.

You will have noticed that when a team plays a soccer game, they all wear matching jerseys, shorts, and socks. The only exception to this is the goalie. 

Find out why in my article – Why Soccer Goalies Wear a Different Color Uniform.

Wearing matching colors helps the players, the referee, and the fans easily identify what team each player represents.

Suppose a player wears their shin guards over their socks rather than under them. In that situation, the color of the shin guards may confuse another player or referee when they quickly glance at another player’s feet or legs.

To avoid any distractions, players wear shin guards under their socks.

2. It Helps Keep the Shin Guards in Place

Wearing shin guards under socks is also important for your safety.

When you choose the right shin guards and socks, the socks can help keep the shin guards in place and keep you even more protected from injuries while playing soccer.

However, if the shin guards are not secure and move around, this can not only make you more susceptible to injury, but it can also be very uncomfortable. 

One of the best solutions to shin guards moving around, even when worn under a sock, is a leg sleeve.

Leg sleeves are also worn under a player’s socks and help secure a shin guard in position. If you’re interested in getting some, these ones on Amazon are a great option.

3. It Follows Soccer Tradition

Finally, wearing socks over the shin guards is important for tradition.

Traditionally socks are worn over the shin guards, and people love to stick with these traditions when playing these sports. It’s similar to how baseball players sometimes wear knee socks/shorter pants. This is how players traditionally wore the uniform.

If you look back to when the first soccer game was played, you will find that some players even wore a variation of shin guards then.

Having understood why shin guards always go under a player’s socks you may be interested in finding out if soccer players need to wear a cup to play soccer.

Why Are Shin Guards Important to Wear?

Soccer is a popular game across the globe, one that adults and children alike love to watch and play.

In many leagues, especially professionally, shin guards are a required piece of equipment to wear. 

soccer shin guards
Player wearing shin guards

But at the level of soccer, you may be involved with, you may be asking – “Do you even need to wear shin guards?”

There are several reasons why it’s crucial to wear shin guards, even if the rules don’t require you to.

For one thing, this can help protect you from injuries. This is one of the most important reasons as to why you should wear them.

I’ve been kicked in the shins many times while playing soccer, and I can tell you that you want to avoid it if at all possible!

When you are playing soccer, and you feel protected, it gives you the confidence to take the field and play hard.

It won’t necessarily prevent you from every injury, but it can make you feel safe enough to compete on the soccer field. Having the right gear whenever you are playing any sport gives you a boost of confidence that you need to win.

Professional soccer is very strict about wearing shin guards and the material used to make these shin guards. Be ready for the referee to inspect your shin guards to make sure that they meet their regulations. 

How Do You Wear Shin Guards?

Knowing that players should wear shin guards under the socks is the first step to understanding how they are worn, but there is more to it than just putting them on your legs.

In my article – How to Wear Soccer Shin Guards – I lay out a clear step-by-step guide to help you understand how to put on shin guards in a way that will keep you protected.

But let me quickly go over this here, also.

Step 1. Purchase the Correct Size and Type of Shin Guard

The first part of this is to know how to purchase shin guards.

If you don’t have the right-sized shin guard, it can negatively impact your performance on the field. It can also be dangerous for you, leading you to get an injury while playing.

To get the correct-sized shin guard, make sure that you measure from about 2 inches below your knee down to where the bend of your ankle is.

You should also be aware that the type of shin guard that you wear can depend on what position you play.

If you’re a goalkeeper, you only need minimal protection from your shin guard.

If you are a defender, you will require more protection, so you need a heavier shin guard.

socks over soccer shin guard
Soccer shin guards

Think about the type of position you play and what level of protection you feel the most comfortable with.

I recommend you try the shin guard on before buying it, when possible. This will help you know if your leg measurement was correct and see how different brands fit you.

When you try them on, walk around with them for a bit to see how they feel. You want to make sure that the shin guards fit comfortably and do not negatively impact your performance. 

Having chosen the right shin guard, it’s essential to know how to wear one.

Step 2. Place the Shin Guard on Your Bare Lower Leg

You start by putting on the shin guard on your bare shin since they are worn under your socks. 

It’s crucial that you put the shin guard on properly.

The shin guards should be centered on the shin, not on either one of the sides. If you don’t place the shin guards correctly, you won’t be as protected and increase your risk of injury.

Be sure that you tighten all of the straps properly.

These straps should be tight enough not to move around but not too much that you end up restricting your circulation.

If you notice that your leg is swelling, any discoloration, or feel numbness in your leg, the straps are likely way too tight. It would be best if you loosed them right away to prevent injury to your leg.

If they are too loose, you can tighten them using tape.

Step 3. Place Your Sock Over the Shin Guard

Now you can put on your sock.

You should choose a sock wisely, selecting something that is snug but isn’t too tight. They are partially responsible for keeping your shin guards in place, so you want a sock that is snug but not too snug.

The sock should also be long enough to at least cover the shin guards. Some players like to wear their socks to or above the knee, which is also something to consider. 


Shin guards are an essential part of playing soccer safely.

However, knowing how to wear them and your socks can be crucial to keeping you safe and ensuring that you wear your shin guards and socks according to league rules. 

Find out what else you can and can’t wear in my article – What a Soccer Player Can (and Can’t) Wear during a Soccer Game.

Ben Clayfield

Hi! My name's Ben. I've played, watched, read about, and enjoyed soccer throughout my life. I really enjoy finding out more about the game I love and sharing it with you all. Find out more about me here - Ben Clayfield

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